Situated in the Algarve in the south of Portugal
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Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve

The Algarve was occupied by the Moors until the Portuguese King Sancho conquered them in 1292, and the Moorish influence is still unmistakable in its whitewashed houses and architectural styles. Recommended day trips in the Algarve include Silves, whose Moorish castle contrasts interestingly with the Christian Gothic Cathedral, and Tavira which is still less touched by tourism and offers wide & less crowded sandy beaches. At Loulé you can see craftsmen at work, and buy locally made goods from the Saturday market. Porches near Lagoa is known for its Ceramics.

The Algarve is composed of 5.411 square kilometres with approx. 420,000 (Year 2004) permanent inhabitants. This figure can swell to well over a million people in the height of the summer. The Algarve administrative centre is Faro with its control over 16 Municipalities, which in turn govern a total of 77 Parishes.

There are about 100 sandy attractive beaches washed by the Atlantic Ocean and due to the maritime shelf and water currents the sea temperature can be often be surprisingly warm even in some of the winter months. Located on the tip of Europe with the vast ocean of the Atlantic as its southern and western border, this enviable position gives this region possibly the most unpolluted climate in the European continent.

The interior from the coast greatly varies in its picturesque appeal due to its variety of fauna, soil and contours. In January and February the coast is painted white with almond blossom shading the many varieties of wild orchids. In March, the heady perfume of orange blossom mixes with the bloom of acacias. During the month of April the bountiful wild flowers give cause to the delightful music of the many colourful birds. May and June is the time to see the raw beauty of the striking bare barks of stripped cork trees in contrast to the palette purple of the jacaranda. July is the time of cherries, strawberries and melons. August and September provide the picking of grapes, figs and almonds. November is for the gathering of chestnuts for the national festival of São Martinho. Whilst, in December it is time to start picking the famous sweet juicy Algarve oranges which continue through to March.

Away from the immediate coastal plain are the foothills leading up to the highest point Foia (902 mts.) above the un-spoilt village of Monchique. This mountain area is well known for the layers of Roman terraces with granite stone walls that provide the stream of local vegetables that can be found on sale in the local market. Also, from this region comes the local brewed drink "Medronho" that is best drunk in one of the many local taverns.

The Algarve has few remaining ancient structures as it has suffered several earthquakes since the first recorded one in 63 BC. Particularly ruinous were the ones in 383 AD, 1719, 1755 and 1761.

Whilst an international cuisine is readily available, the local specialities are worth sampling, from the famous 'Piri-piri' (chicken marinated in a spicy chilli sauce) to grilled squid and other seafood dishes, to the delicate marzipan or almond sweets.

 

 

The Algarve

Beach

Beach

Beach